A young autistic man under the care of staff at a group home died earlier this week when he escaped over a fence and fell into a neighbor’s in-ground swimming pool. Despite the 6-foot high fence, this tragic drowning accident in New York may have been prevented had anyone been able to get to the man sooner.
The 22-year old victim had been a resident of a home for autistic adults on Long Island operated by The Nassau Mental Health Association. Eyewitnesses say that on the afternoon of August 3rd the victim was outside-with at least one staff member-when he suddenly ran for the fence at the edge of the yard.
Three staff members tried to follow him over but were unable to. Instead, they had to run around the fence to a gate. They jumped into the pool and retrieved the victim but he was unresponsive when they pulled him from the water. At least one staff member performed CPR but when rescue crews arrived he was declared dead.
As this deadly pool accident demonstrates, it only takes an instant of inattention for tragedy to strike. It takes less than 3 minutes to drown.
Unfortunately, autistic individuals are at a much higher risk of drowning. Statistics show that roughly half eventually run away or escape from their caregivers and drowning is one of the leading causes of death for people with autism.
Marcia Spector, Nassau Mental Health’s interim executive director, noted that the facility had more than the legally required number of staff on hand at the time of the tragic drowning accident. However, the family may look to the pool owner for responsibility. New York City law requires pool owners to install adequately high fencing with gates that latch to make pools less accessible to challenged adults and children.
If you’ve suffered a pool accident in New York, you may have legal options available to you. Contact an experienced New York City drowning accident lawyer immediately. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 today.